#NextLevelLookDown: The High-Up Photography of @Jayscale
In order to look down, Toronto photographer Jayscale first must look up. Known for starting #nextlevellookdown, where participants dangle their limbs off of skyscrapers, Jayscale combines a passion for architecture and style to differentiate himself from past camera-slinging daredevils.
Not only does he walk around the city with eyes glued to the heavens, scoping out the skyline for potential shots, when he does get lucky and make it atop a big building he makes sure to shoot himself wearing rare sneakers.
“You take it to the next level when you have dope sneakers,” says Jayscale. “You separate yourself from a certain crowd.”
Having already shot in New York City, Chicago, Cleveland, Montreal and of course his home city of Toronto, Jayscale divvies up his time between shooting local campaigns and planning his next trip, this time probably to Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland. These places all have communities of photographers that try and support each other, groups to which Jayscale accredits much of his growth as an artist.
“My first trip was to New York,” he says. “I set up a kind of meet for 10 to 15 of us. We all met up, walked a couple bridges. It was super dope to see there was a community. When I came back to Toronto it made me want to pursue it even more.”
Some of those photographers Jayscale met in New York last February were @insighting and @phil.photo, both of whom he met through Instagram. They shared their breadth of knowledge, says Jayscale, even when he would ask the “stupidest” questions (which helped him learn).
When he got back to Toronto he quit his day job, picked up some new equipment (Fuji X-T1 23mm set-up) and devoted himself to the craft he’d originally picked up as a somewhat bored kinesiology student.
“I decided to do a year part-time. I didn’t want to dropout of university completely and get my mom upset,” says Jayscale. “One day I just started taking pictures with my iPhone just because I was looking at other people’s accounts.”
Inspired by the creativity and unique perspective of some of the accounts (in particular Chicago photographer Jason Peterson), Jayscale started playing around with black and white images, and made his name a spinoff of “grayscale.” But then one day he had all these cool photos on the cutting room floor, so to speak, and decided to abandon that theme and include the color ones as well. He schooled himself in principles like the rule of thirds, stuff you would learn at art school, and continued to ask lots of questions when he met up with other, more experienced, photographers.
“I guess my vision is different because I never studied photography,” he says. “Now I have read up and take these concepts under consideration when I’m doing more professional things, but when I do my own stuff I don’t try to be conventional, I see photos how I see fit.”
Even when he’s doing corporate gigs—this month for a large Canadian sporting goods store called Sport Chek—he tries to make the images his own, whether that be shooting in the rain, which he loves, or incorporating some of the perspective he’s gained from fashioning #nextlevellookdown.
“When you see it from higher up, you see each city has its own unique style and you start looking at the city differently everywhere you go,” says Jayscale, whose favorite building to date is the John Hancock Center in Chicago. He says he likes Chicago in particular because it’s a combination of what he sees in New York and Toronto, a mix of old-style and new-style.
Though he has a penchant for penthouse views, Jayscale spends a good amount of time ground level in his neighborhood. He tries to hit the basketball court as much as he can, belongs to the Nike Run Club, and of course cheers on his favorite sports team, the Toronto Raptors.